First Thing: Baby Grayden is continuing to respond well to his botulism treatment, thank goodness. It will still be a lengthy recovery process, unfortunately, and he'll probably go home on a feeding tube, but at least he will LIVE and be fine. Things were very tense there for awhile, and we all feel very relieved. Also, thank GOODNESS his grandparents could come and be with their kids while all that was going on, right? So they have and will continue to have help with the babies, at least.
Now they just need help with all the hospital bills! Did you know botulism in infants is so rare they have to make up the treatment solution (which I guess is actually kind of like a vaccination: they infuse the baby with a form of the bacteria that caused the initial illness? or something? and then that causes the body to fight off the initial bacteria) on an as-needed basis. It's only made in California, by the department of health, and then gets shipped out whenever a case arises. So each treatment costs- wait for it- forty thousand dollars. That's JUST the actual medicine, not the doctor's bills or the hospital stay or anything. Hello! So, you know, try not to ever get botulism, is the moral there. Scary AND expensive.
Now, back to the birth story. And this will be the LAST installation, I promise! Good grief. (Parts one and two are here.)
So my water was broken at about seven fifteen in the morning, and the tub was filling. I was feeling different and weird, but still the contractions didn't all of the sudden start coming fast and furious like I expected them to. Also, we had been told that the baby's head was coming down sideways, so Stacy advised me that the best position to be in to turn him around facing down was to sit on the ball. So that's basically what I did, just bounced on the ball for the next two hours. I even ate breakfast and had a couple of monitor checks while sitting on it.
If you can believe, I didn't get my first real, hurty contraction until forty five minutes after my water broke. After that, they did finally start coming on a pretty regular basis and were intense enough that I wanted a heating pad on my back and to hold someone's hand during them. Around nine I apparently said that I could feel the baby turning, so I guess the ball worked. I don't remember anyone saying that he came out sideways, anyways, so I assume it did!
My mom and my SIL Jenn had arrived by this point, so I had quite a support team to keep me entertained while things started picking up speed. Around nine thirty I had a contraction that literally took me to my knees- I just kind of rolled off the ball and hit the floor with my elbows on the bed. And I stayed there for quite a while, at least it seems like it to my memory. It felt like one non stop contraction for about twenty minutes. I think that was the point when I began making some noise, if I recall correctly!
At ten o clock in the morning I got into the birthing tub, finally. I was still at seven to eight cm, and the baby's head was at zero station. Same place it was at thirty weeks when I went on bedrest, but it certainly feels a lot different to have a three pound baby's head there than to have an almost seven pound baby's head there! I stayed on my hands and knees almost the entire time I was in the tub. Every time a contraction came, about every two minutes by then, Stacy would put pressure on my tailbone and Jim would stroke my head. I would just kind of arch my back and try to concentrate on what I was feeling, which was the baby literally moving down my spine as my cervix opened. I just kept reminding myself that it was a GOOD thing even though it felt excruciating! I definitely felt very aware of what was going on with my body and the baby during transition, rather it just being a big blur of pain, so that was cool.
I started pushing around eleven. I still vividly remember the contraction when the pain went from lots of pressure to an urgent, must push right now because the baby's pushing himself out pressure. I think that's what I said, even- "You guys, he's coming out! After the second or third time I yelled at them that no, really, I HAD to push right then- 'cause you know, the first time you say it, they're always like, "Yeah, I know, honey, it's going to be soon now!"- the nurses ran across the hall to get my doctor, who had another patient out-screaming me over there. (In what was supposed to be my recovery room, by the way, but they got so full I ended up staying in the birthing room the whole time.)
I think the first few pushes, which were totally involuntary, happened on my hands and knees. I didn't actually want to give birth in that position, because I wanted to see him come out and pick him up right away, but I kind of felt unable to move once that urge kicked in. They finally got me to roll over, though, primarily by yelling "Sarah! You have to turn over first!" and it was about fifteen minutes from then until he was born. I got to the point where everyone was cheering, "He's crowning! He's right there!" and that's when I kind of hit a wall and stopped pushing for awhile. I think I was almost numb by that point, and I also felt this strong need to wait a minute. I told them, "I need a break." (Possible TMI: I don't remember actually thinking it, but I imagine subconsciously I was remembering that I really really didn't want to tear, and that it would be better to give myself some time to stretch.) After a minute or two I finally did start pushing again, and then there he was, and without any tearing whatsoever, and only minimal screaming and shrieking.
The scary part was that when he came out, he was more or less blue. The cord was wrapped around his abdomen four times, and it was also a really short cord, so we had a bit of struggle getting him unwrapped while also keeping his head above water. I didn't see that he was tangled at first, and was confused as to why the doctor wasn't letting go of him when I reached for him. When I saw what was going on I sort of panicked a bit and was trying to unwrap him myself. The doctor was like, "Just hang on a minute, let me get it!"
But then finally- really within just about sixty seconds- he was in my arms and looking up at me, crying and starting to pink up. He was just amazing. How could that moment ever be anything but amazing, holding this child who was inside of you one minute and in your arms the next? (Also amazing, and hysterical, is the picture of me, still holding Jamie in the water, when my doctor told me I wouldn't need any stitches. I seriously looked like a kid on Christmas morning; I was so delighted that I'd actually gotten what I was hoping for with the water birth!)
After a few minutes, once the cord had stopped pulsing and was cut, they took Jamie to put him under the lights and give him some oxygen, since his hands and feet were still pretty blue. I was helped out of the tub and delivered the placenta back in the bed. At that point I was glad I'd had the intravenous access port put in, because I bled quite a bit, just like in my previous births, and had to get a shot of Pitocin and a dose of it through an IV right away. I got pretty lightheaded and felt like crap for ten minutes or so, but then the bleeding slowed and I got to hold my baby again and all was well.
Jameson nursed right away then, and Stacy told me it was the best and fastest latch she'd ever seen on a newborn. He definitely has not had a moment's trouble figuring out nursing since then! It took us a few minutes to decide for sure on his name; it was still between Jameson and Isaac at that point. I let Jim get the final say since I'd pretty much named Eli all on my own, and he chose Jameson. The middle name, or names, rather, took quite a bit more hammering out, but we finally decided on Beckett Isaac.
After I got cleaned up and showered, we ordered a celebratory pizza, and man, doesn't your first meal after having a baby just taste like the best thing EVER? I still remember that pizza vividly. Then the kids came and met their little brother, and that half hour or so was just the sweetest thing. I want to remember it forever. It went so much better than I had ever dared hope. All in all, I really had a great hospital stay and the nurses were great about mostly leaving me be to rest and bond with my baby. I wish I had chosen to stay the extra night I could have, but I really wanted to get home to be with the older kids again.
And... I think that's it! Water birth was awesome, and I would totally recommend it, and I will definitely do it again if I have the chance. I don't know how much it helped with the actual pain level, but it definitely helped me cope with it better and feel more free to move around into positions that helped me work with the contractions the most effectively. And yeah, the no tearing part was amazing, compared with the thirty plus stitches from Eli's birth! I seriously could hardly even tell I'd HAD a baby the next day, the recovery was that easy. Two thumbs up for the birthing tub! (I know it doesn't always work for everyone, though, and some people straight up hate it, so you know, this is just MY experience. Don't sue me if you personally end up not liking it or needing stitches or whatever!)
Having a doula was also wonderful, yet again, and I also highly recommend that. Or, just hire my husband! He was a total rock star, to use a tired but appropriate expression. He did and said everything you would hope your partner would do and say during labor, and I definitely was never tempted to swear or throw things at him! And having my family and friend around me was wonderful. I was so happy they got to be there for such a special event in our family's life. Just knowing they were there really helped keep my spirits up when I would get bored, or scared, or freaked out. Also, of course, Jess took all those wonderful pictures for us! What an awesome gift.
And that is the end, really and truly, and thank you for hanging in there if you actually managed to read all of this! I feel very blessed that, after such a rough time trying to conceive and carry this sweet little boy, his birth went so smoothly and relatively easily. We are all very much in love with him, and he really does feel like a gift to our family. Sometimes when I look at him, sleeping in my arms with his solid, deeply breathing little body as real as my own, I still can't believe he's actually, finally here. He's actually ours. Our third baby.